Numbers from Eagan PD show continued pervasiveness of scams

In 2019 26 victims lost more than $440,000

Sloane Martin
September 18, 2019 - 12:02 pm

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We all know about the prevalence of scams, both over the phone and online, but numbers from the Eagan Police Department show how pervasive the problem continues to be.

A call comes that they're not expecting: a deportation threat, a fraudulent utility bill, a bogus U.S. Marshal warrant. Then the panic kicks in, driven by fear to rectify the problem. 

"Sometimes it's easy to stand on the sideline and say, 'I'd never fall for that,' but these scams continue to trick people into giving money, and a lot of them are really convincing," Officer Aaron Machtemes said.

According to Eagan PD, in 2019 alone 26 people have lost $441,397 combined. A 63-year-old vulnerable adult lost $160,000 and a 61-year-old woman lost $126,700 in an online dating scam, subject of an in-depth investigation by the New York Times recently. Those were the largest totals, but people as young as 21 were ripped off by Facebook and Craigslist as well, with scammers demanding gift cards and wire transfers. The victims vary across age, race, socioeconomic status and education. It really happened to anyone.

Machtemes says it's "nearly impossible" to recoup the lost money, especially if the money goes overseas, due to the complicated investigations and jurisdictions, but he does have some advice for how to avoid becoming a victim.

"Anyone who receives these phone calls and isn't sure -- usually when they're feeling the panic, their critical thinking shuts down, but if there's something in the back of their heads thinking, 'This isn't right,' hang up and call a friend or call the police department, and usually a third perspective really brings things into focus and you realize, 'Uh-oh, I'm being scammed.'"

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